How do you spell big…H-U-G-E!

The LTO Program officially announced the release of LTO generation 8 specifications along with an extended LTO technology roadmap last month. In this BlogBytes, we will discuss features, benefits and technological advancements that make the capacity offering of LTO-8 tape huge as well as looking at the newly extended technology roadmap.

How big is huge?

Big, large, huge or however you want to describe the capacity of LTO-8 technology, it’s spec’d at 12 terabytes native with up to 30 terabytes of compressed data storage per cartridge!* That is twice the capacity of LTO-7 technology, and for those who like tech trivia, LTO-8 is 120 times the capacity of LTO generation 1!  The capacity of LTO-8 is greatly needed in cloud environments and in many segments of the IT world as discussed by Calline Sanchez, vice president of Enterprise System Storage at IBM, “This will be critical to customers using LTO technology for media and entertainment, healthcare, video surveillance, hyper scale data centers, IoT and research, which rely on LTO technology to create a massive repository for nearline and long-term storage.”

How does LTO-8 tape do it?

A variety of technological levers can be used to increase capacity, including more data tracks and an increase in bits per inch density. A key physical component in achieving capacity enhancements is the read-write head assembly.  The drive heads that were used in earlier generations of LTO technology were Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) drive heads. These have been replaced in LTO-8 tape drives by state of the art Tunneling Magnetoresistive (TMR) drive heads. LTO-8 TMR heads enable higher bit densities,  lower operating temperatures and achieve improvements in signal sensitivity contributing to increased storage capacities and high data integrity.

What can LTO-8 technology do for you?

The benefits of LTO-8 technology are plentiful. Some of these are straightforward while others are not as obvious upon first glance.

  • Store more with less: use fewer cartridges to improve space utilization and help save investment dollars in the long-term.
  • More efficient use of tape libraries: reclaim tape slots, less space needed and less robotic handling can help to conserve tape library expense.
  • Reduce offsite charges: fewer cartridges mean less offsite storage handling and less space needed, enabling you to save even more IT dollars.
  • Less need for human tape handling: fewer cartridges to move to shelves, to additional locations or to put in vaults meaning you can save time, space and money.
  • Backwards compatibility: LTO-8 tape drives can read and write LTO-7 tape cartridges helping to preserve media investments and simplify integration.**
  • Increase the storage capacity of new LTO-7 tapes by up to 50%: a new initialization feature will be introduced to enable new, unused and labelled Type M LTO-7 tape cartridge capacities to be increased by up to 50 percent. New LTO generation 7 cartridges initialized as LTO-8 Type M media and used in LTO-8 tape drives will be able to store up to 22.5TB* of data compressed, helping to preserve and enhance tape media investments.
  • Ease of Use with LTFS: LTO-8 supports partitioning, enabling the use of the Linear Tape File System (LTFS), which makes viewing and accessing tape files easier than ever before.
  • Secure Data Protection: continued multi-layer security support for hardware-based encryption and WORM (Write-Once, Read Many) functionality helps protect and secure sensitive information.
  • Improve productivity: The LTO-8 tape drive boasts an uncompressed data transfer rate of up to 300 MBps (up to 750 MBps with compression).*

LTO Technology Roadmap Extended

The LTO technology roadmap has been extended to twelve generations. LTO-12 technology has a planned capacity of, drum roll please, 480TBs compressed.* This will redefine the idea of huge to GIGANTIC!  It also shows that innovation and advancements in tape technology are going to be significant and ongoing, which is great news for IT storage managers trying to cope with large files that must be stored for longer periods of time.  For secure, reliable and affordable storage, LTO tape technology is the solution of today and in the future!


Want to discuss your storage needs with the LTO Program team and see LTO-7 technology live? You can find us demonstrating LTO-7 tape and discussing LTO-8 specifications at the ISC East security conference in New York on November 15 and 16.

*Assumes a 2.5:1 compression achieved with larger compression history buffer available beginning with LTO generation 6 drives.
** In an effort to push innovation boundaries of tape technology going forward, the current LTO format required a recording technology transition that supports capacity growth for future LTO generations. To address this technological shift and maintain affordability in times of extreme data growth, the latest LTO generation 8 specifications are intended to be only backwards compatible with LTO generation 7 cartridges.